Commandments debate shows knee-jerk reaction

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 2, 2004

Have we as a society gone overboard with our constant fears that something we say or do might be construed as offensive to someone?

The latest legal action taken in an Ohio case has brought that question of social direction back to light recently.

Last week, attorneys for an Ohio school board have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider the court's decision banning the display of the Ten Commandments on school grounds.

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Members of the Adams County school board - along with probably millions of other Americans - see nothing wrong with displaying the 10 rules.

However, a few folks with the American Civil Liberties Union don't agree with the school's decision.

Of course, at this point, massive amounts of money have likely been spent on both sides of this case trying to prove one side is on politically superior, or perhaps divinely moral, legal ground.

Does the fact that millions of citizens agree with something make it legal? Certainly not.

Does the fact that the word "God" is somewhere uttered in our schools mean we have somehow violated the Constitution? Absolutely not.

Displaying the Ten Commandments is no different than having school children study portions of world history.

The Ten Commandments are, in their simplest terms, merely words. They are words that have great meaning for some people and little meaning for others.

Our schools teach many, many things in classrooms, things with which not all parents agree.

Students learn about foreign lands, foreign religions and foreign ways of life.

They learn about history and how historic events affected modern day. We seem to have no problem asking students to read passages from history or literature - no matter how immoral or offensive they may be. But somehow, we stumble on even the slightest hint of modern day religion. Would the ACLU lawyers and their supporters like us to sanitize the world of religion?

Are they offended when they see a Holy Bible placed by the Gideons in a hotel room? Do their stomachs turn when they look across a restaurant and see a husband and wife bow their heads in blessing before a meal? The ACLU's legal actions might be comical if they were not so real and so without purpose.

Perhaps the 11th Commandment should be: Thou shalt not make a mountain out of a molehill.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to